MDARD podcast series sheds light on hemp exports, invasive species, more

For immediate release: September 25, 2020
Media contact: Jessy Sielski, 517-331-1151

LANSING, MI - The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s podcast series “Fresh from the Field” offers insights into some of the state’s hottest topics in food and agriculture, as well as other issues the department is addressing on behalf of Michigan’s consumers and industry stakeholders. Among the most recent topics have been hemp exports and certifications, invasive species, mosquito control, and food safety.

“One of the reasons we produce these podcasts is to offer our listeners first-hand insights from the subject matter experts who live and breathe these issues every day,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “There are a number of ways to get information these days, but this is one of the few ways for the public to hear directly from the people who protect consumers, safeguard the environment, respond to emergencies, and keep businesses growing.”

In a recent episode, MDARD discussed hemp products and hemp certification with Theresa Sisung, field crops and advisory team specialist with Michigan Farm Bureau, and Mike Bryan, plant industry export and compliance program specialist in MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. The guests also offered tips for growers and processors, as well as the pest and disease inspections that must be met to move hemp across state lines or out of the U.S.

“There are more than 25,000 different products that are made from hemp or contain hemp products,” said Sisung. “There’s protein that comes from the hemp seed…and then there’s that group of CBD products—whether it’s the oil or different things that the oil is put into, like lotions and things like that. And then there’s more of the industrial products (rope, fabric, biodegradable plastics, building materials like Hempcrete, insulation, paper products and packaging).”

“Shipping internationally can be tricky because each country has slightly different requirements, and that’s where our staff come into play,” said Bryan. “We have authorized certification officials who are credentialed by the USDA. If anyone is interested in exporting their industrial hemp or any other plant-based commodity to touch base with us—send me an email or give me a call.”

In another recent episode, MDARD Invasive Species Prevention and Response Specialist Robert Miller spoke about several invasive species that threaten Michigan, including hemlock woolly adelgid, which recently made the news due to MDARD’s expansion on two quarantines, and the spotted lanternfly, which poses a serious threat to Michigan’s grapes, orchards, and the logging industry.

“If you get a tree—for example, a tree of heaven—heavily infested with spotted lanternfly, you will get black sooty mold underneath the tree,” said Miller. “It’s slippery, it’s sticky, it stinks, and it attracts other insects, and that could be a big problem for homeowners. This is also something that is a big problem for the grape industry; the spotted lanternfly really likes grapes.”

Other “Fresh from the Farm” episodes include mosquito control, food safety, and emergency preparedness. Future podcast topics will include farm-to-school programs and fun fall activities.

MDARD’s “Fresh from the Field” podcast can be found on Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcast, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, Spotify, Apple Podcast, and YouTube.